Think back to when you turned 16 years old and you got your first car. Remember the excitement and joy you felt when you took it out for your first drive? Some people had parents who gave them the car without many rules or regulations, while others had to work hard to earn and keep the car. Some had parents who paid for gas, insurance, repairs, tires and tickets. Others had parents who made them pay for everything. Can you guess which group took better care of their cars? My guess is that if you were in the group who had to pay for everything, you took immaculate care of the car, washed it regularly, drove carefully, changed the oil, and didn’t get many tickets.
Now imagine that the first car you ever drove was the car you were forced to drive for the rest of your life. There are no new cars, no trade-ins, no do-overs. Also, any part on the car that breaks can be replaced, but the repairs will be really expensive and none of the replacement parts will ever work as well as the original parts. Once the repairs are made, the car will never run quite as well, and its life span will decrease. If that were the case, I bet there wouldn’t be any drag races, texting while driving, running red lights, or speeding. Maintenance schedules would be followed in great detail, and we would all work to keep those cars in peak shape.
Using the above example, how are our bodies any different? We only get one body. No do-overs, no trade-ins, no refunds. We push through pain, even though that represents the check engine light in our cars. We eat terrible food, even though that would be the equivalent of putting gas in a diesel engine. We don’t get enough sleep, even though that would mean revving the engine while the gas light is on. We abuse our bodies on a regular basis, even though it is the most important piece of equipment we possess, and it is our most valuable asset.
I believe we should do all that we can to optimize our bodies and treat them like the temples they are. We should be eating a clean and healthy diet as often as possible, getting eight hours of sleep a night, working out regularly in an intelligently designed strength and conditioning program, and getting regular maintenance done such as massages, acupuncture or chiropractic care. We should stretch out our muscles and our joints regularly to keep them functioning as designed. If we do not do these things, our parts wear out and must be replaced. Sure, we can get an insulin pump when we’ve destroyed our pancreas, or a hip replacement when our joints break down, but wow, are those repairs expensive and time consuming. Not to mention, the replacement parts are never as good as the original factory parts. You don’t believe me? Try running a 5K on an artificial hip, or playing a game of basketball with a knee replacement. It won’t take long to realize that those parts aren’t up for the challenge.
In life, we can either be proactive or reactive with our bodies and our health. We can either be proactive and spend money now on our health by hiring a personal trainer, getting massages, attending yoga classes, getting preventative health screenings done, and eating clean on a daily basis, or we can be reactive and spend even more money later in life on a cardiologist, orthopedist, oncologist, plastic surgeon or nursing home. The choice is, and has always been, ours. The only logical choice is to be proactive with our health. What could five to 10 extra years of quality of life to mean to you when you’re 60 or 70 years old? What is staying out of a nursing home and being able to be independent mean to you? These are things we seldom think about when we are 20, 30 or 40 years old, but it is the reality we face. The decisions we make now will determine our quality of life in later years. Choose wisely and live the life you dreamed of!
Chris McAbee is the founder and co-owner of Wilmington Performance Lab, a state-of-the-art personal training facility that offers a full range of services including nutritional counseling and corporate wellness. Wilmington Performance Lab was founded on the belief that personal training is not only about making physical improvements, but also building long lasting, quality relationships with partners you can trust. For more information, visit http://wilmingtonperformancelab.com or call 910-399-5441.
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